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Professor Rehman Sobhan on Bangladesh’s foreign aid dependence

Economist and former member of the planning commission Rehman Sobhan said the country’s dependence on foreign aid had decreased significantly to 1 to 2 per cent of GDP from 12-15 per cent of GDP about two decades ago. Donor agencies including SIDA, when reviewing its presence in Bangladesh, obviously have to be much more modest in their approach, he said.

Published in New Age on Thursday, 19 November 2015.

‘BD still needs to improve in governance issues’
SIDA celebrates 50 years in Bangladesh

Staff Correspondent

Bangladesh has made significant progress in many fields including education, literacy, health and reducing poverty, but it still has work in hand in improving human development and good governance issues, said foreign diplomats, donors.

Bangladesh made more progress than many expected, said Börje Ljunggren, the head of the Asia department of the Swedish ministry for foreign affairs while talking at a ceremony celebrating 50 years of Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) in Bangladesh in the capital.

He said Henry Kissinger, the influential US Secretary of State in the 1970s, had described Bangladesh as a ‘basket case’, but it has made significant strides in many fields.

He, however, said that Bangladesh has some work to do as it ranked 142 in UNDP’s Human Development Index, ranked 108 at Gender Inequality Index and ranked 145 out of 173 countries in the Transparency International report.

Economist and former member of the planning commission Rehman Sobhan said the country’s dependence on foreign aid had decreased significantly to 1 to 2 per cent of GDP from 12-15 per cent of GDP about two decades ago.

Donor agencies including SIDA, when reviewing its presence in Bangladesh, obviously have to be much more modest in their approach, he said.

Bangladesh’s source of external earning is remittance sent by the expatriate Bangladeshis and now it has access to new destinations like China – the largest source of import and prospective source of massive investment in Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia – the largest home of Bangladeshi expatriate workers and neighbor India, that is also a good investor, Rehman Sobhan said.

There have been successes but there is also some failure. Bangladesh is still fighting with poverty, said Swedish ambassador in Dhaka Johan Frisell.

SIDA began functioning in 1965 and since then they are assisting the country in the fields of reduction of poverty, empowering rural men and women, health, vocational education and other issues.

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